Brian Stelter, CNN’s media reporter, got his start with what was basically a hobby: the Cable Newser blog. In those days he could play fast and loose, protect his pals, do whatever he liked. Because it was just a small niche blog.

But now he’s a media reporter for the erstwhile Most Trusted Name in News, and the standards are, or should be, different. When Carol Costello has a laughing jag over a young woman being assaulted, you’d expect some mention on Reliable Sources. The Jim Clancy incident seems to have escaped notice by CNN’s flagship media criticism show. Stelter seems a bit too willing to sweep things under the rug. (I don’t even want to go into his whitewash of plagiarist Fareed Zakaria.)

Brian devoted a Reliable Sources segment last week to Fox News and its no-go zone difficulties, not to mention various additional reports through the week like this one with the overly enthusiastic Jeffrey Toobin. Through it all nobody mentioned that CNN itself had talked about, reported on, and presented without skepticism their own “no-go zone” claims. Only after someone else had to remind CNN what they reported did Anderson Cooper admit their culpability and apologize.

Howard Kurtz reported Fox’s apology on Media Buzz despite it being an embarrassment to his own network. But Brian Stelter said nothing about CNN’s apology on today’s Reliable Sources. Is Reliable a media watchdog show, or a protection racket to distract from CNN mistakes?

Spiking stories that embarrass Keith Olbermann is one thing if you’re a school kid playing around with a blog. But spiking stories on a news channel to please the guy who signs your checks would be more disturbing. It’s a JV move. Brian should put on his big boy pants and do his job. He’ll earn the respect of his viewers.


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